Desi Boy and American Girl Traveling the World

Tag: kurta

A Beginner’s Guide To Visiting Oman

A Beginner’s Guide To Visiting Oman

I can’t remember exactly when I first decided to add Oman to my travel bucket list. I do remember watching this amazing Marko Roth video about Oman (seriously though, all his travel videos are incredible) and feeling inspired to travel to this small nation in […]

Favorite Lucknow Lookouts

Favorite Lucknow Lookouts

  Located in the northern part of India, Lucknow is a city rich with culture and history. Unfortunately, it tends to get overlooked by tourists hoping to hit the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur). While all of these places are definitely worth visiting, I […]

Halloween Costumes: Admiration or Appropriation?

Halloween Costumes: Admiration or Appropriation?

Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions. – Paulo Coelho

Halloween is just around the corner and people are gearing up to get dressed up! But costumes aren’t always just costumes, are they?

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I recently came across this article on Buzzfeed pointing to people using dress from another culture for Halloween costumes as offensive. The article singles out ‘white people,’ perhaps because Halloween itself is considered a Western holiday and therefore ‘white’ (an offensive remark in and of itself), but it got me thinking about the topic in general. What happens when any group or race appropriates clothes from a foreign culture as costumes?

In Singapore we don’t tend to have this problem. It’s not because we don’t find other cultures fascinating, but mostly because there’s such a mix of cultures here that anyone wearing traditional Indian, Malay, or any other kind of clothes is something we see in everyday, normal life. I myself own a number of kurtas (Indian clothes) which I like to wear out and about the city when the mood strikes me. I find the clothing beautiful and colorful and I like to express my fascination with the Indian culture in this way.

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However, in the U.S. I’ve lived in cities where there either aren’t large populations of other cultures or extensive exposure to foreign ways of life. Just as people overseas are fascinated by Hollywood movies and like to emulate the styles presented in them, in the U.S. people become fascinated with Bollywood as well as films from countries like Korea and China. And, if you think about it, Halloween may just be the perfect time to wear clothes you think are beautiful or cool because you can’t really do it in your day to day life. Sure, the costumes look lame and cheap to those of us who know better, but who are we to judge someone who finds saris pretty and just wants to have some fun?

What do you think? Do you find it offensive when people take aspects of your culture and use them as costumes? If so, why? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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